Loyola University Chicago

The President’s Medallion

Celeste Sanchez

PHOTO: Heather EidsonCeleste Sánchez (right) shares a laugh with fellow student Jessica Piña at a Social Workers of Color Alliance meeting. “Service work and volunteering is something that has enriched my life and changed me for the better,” Sánchez says.

School of Social Work

Celeste Sánchez

For graduate student Celeste Sánchez, service is a huge part of her life—both here and abroad.

In Chicago, she provided a variety of services to homeless youth while interning at two local organizations. In Central America, she worked for several years with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (“Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), which operates homes for orphaned children. In both places, she made a big difference in the lives of others.

Here, she talks about being the daughter of immigrants, how social work has transformed her life, and why she’ll miss the 12th floor of Lewis Towers.

What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
My favorite memories at Loyola are those tied to the migration studies sub-specialization within the School of Social Work. The two trips that are provided through that specialization were incredible, yet extremely difficult, especially as the daughter of immigrants. Going to the Arizona-Mexico border and going to Mexico City with Professors Maria Vidal de Haymes and Marta Lundy guiding us—and being surrounded by fellow classmates that are also invested in social justice matters—was amazing.

Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
As a Latina, I feel extremely fortunate to have been a student in Professor Vidal’s class because I see myself reflected in her. She has provided me with guidance, and I have learned an incredible amount from her. My experience at Loyola would not have been the same without her support and the opportunities she has provided for me. Her dedication, work ethic, and passion for social justice are a true inspiration.

Tell us about your volunteer/service work and what it means to you.
Service work and volunteering is something that has enriched my life and changed me for the better. I have met amazing people that have taught me so much and continue to inspire me, specifically through my time at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos in Guatemala and Honduras. Working together with people toward a common goal of advocating for change is a true honor and privilege—and it’s something I hope to continue having the opportunity to do throughout my life.

Any advice you would give students about how to get the most out of their education?
I would say to not be afraid to seek out the help, guidance, and support of your professors. Most of them are more than willing to meet with you, and that made a big difference for me. Also, do not shy away from taking “tough” professors because those are the ones that truly challenge you and push you to go above and beyond.

Any spots on campus or in Chicago that you’ll miss?
I will probably miss the west wing of the 12th floor of Lewis Towers. Being a graduate assistant has given me the opportunity to pick professors’ minds and get to know them a little better. I’ll definitely miss seeing everyone there.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I hope to be working in Latin America with children and youth or another underserved population. I will be using my social work skills, but I am not completely sure in what capacity. It could be through community work, individual work, or research—or any combination of all three. I look forward to seeing what the future may hold.